Goodbye Hotmail - say hello to Outlook.com
The internet has changed a lot since 1996. An awful lot. Back then, there were only 36 million people online in the entire world - and many of those ended up with a Hotmail account. In the years since, Hotmail has been one of the web's few constants.
However, all things must change. Now, 17 years after Hotmail first launched, there are more than 2.5 billion people online - and it's time for Hotmail to evolve to meet the new demands of a web full of mobile phones, tablets and touch screens.
Your Hotmail isn't going away - it's just changing. Meet your new Hotmail - Outlook.com!
If you're an existing Hotmail user you'll be able to upgrade to the new Outlook.com immediately. You can rename your existing @hotmail.com address to the new @outlook.com or, if you prefer, add an additional alias to your old account. If you are a new user you too can pick an @outlook.com email address and take a tour of the new service.
Don’t worry, you can still access your email from MSN too. Just click on the Outlook.com button whether you are enjoying the new MSN for Windows 8 experience or visiting MSN as you have before (see below).
Outlook.com represents the first major improvement to web-based email in eight years, and it builds off the power of Outlook that people have long used on both PCs and Macs.
Some of the changes are obvious, while some you may miss at first glance - so what are the highlights? Here are eight of our favourites:
1) Mobile and touch-friendly design
Visit Outlook.com and you'll immediately notice the new design. This has changed because we no longer just catch-up on our emails in a browser - nowadays most of us spend just as much time composing and checking mail on our phone (or tablet). So it's important for your Outlook experience to go with you - and not have a different look and feel every time.
2) Faster mailing
Outlook.com makes the whole process of emailing much faster, offering up a full menu bar of options every time you select an email. From here, in just one click (or touch) you can move mail into folders, assign categories, perform other actions like flag and print, and of course, forward or reply. Find out more about faster mailing here.
2) No ads, more space
In a masterstroke Microsoft have made sure to clear all of the unnecessary clutter that plagues so many webmail services (as well as old Hotmail) - out of the way. Outlook.com's header contains 60% fewer pixels (which means more space) and around 30% more messages visible in your inbox than you've got used to.
But by far the best thing is the revelation that there are no display ads or large search boxes to take up all that extra space and slow down the time it takes you to check your mail
3) Less junk mail
Microsoft have also made it easy to keep your inbox under control – automatically – as Outlook.com sorts the mail you want, and sweeps away the junk you don’t. You can keep things tidy by filtering newsletters and social updates automatically, or by cleaning up your inbox specifically to your needs. Find out more here
4) Keep your private information private
A sense of privacy is paramount to users, which is why Microsoft has internet safety at the heart of Outlook.com. As well as a first-rate spam filter, Outlook.com won’t serve ads based on the content of your emails and gives you total control of what you share socially with friends. Find out more here.
5) Powerful free Office tools
People also use email to share photos and work together on documents, so Microsoft has included its suite of free Office Web Apps.
Office Web Apps are made up of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote, all of which let you view and edit attachments without leaving your inbox. Outlook.com is also connected to your personal SkyDrive which makes sending photos, documents (or pretty much anything) a doddle. SkyDrive has the added benefit of eliminating the need for fiddly email attachments too.
6) Access your email easily, anywhere
Outlook.com is designed for the modern world and utilises the many benefits of cloud storage, and is available on iPhone, Android and Windows Phone, so all of your mail is always available wherever you are.
Outlook.com also makes use of Exchange ActiveSync, so it powers your mail, calendar and people experience on your smartphone, tablet, and the new Outlook 2013 on your PC.
7) Get social with Facebook and Twitter and more
Connect and see your friends' Facebook updates and Tweets directly in your inbox. Outlook.com is the first email service to offer such a feature to this degree. LinkedIn updates, as well as content from Google and soon, Skype, can also be found here. Your contacts' information is automatically in sync with the cloud so you don't miss a thing.
8) Chat and (Skype) video calling built in
Outlook.com will soon offer the ability to chat and video call via the power of Skype. Previously, you were limited to sending instant messages to your contacts via Messenger and Facebook. For those who haven't tried it, Skype is a huge improvement - you won't have to worry about fumbling for telephone numbers ever again as you can pick contacts straight out of an always up-to-date contact list that (again) is connected to your social networks.
So yes, Hotmail has gone the way of the Dodo - but the spirit of Hotmail will live on. Just as, way back at its launch in 1996, Hotmail's founders aimed to provide a service for the fast-changing early days of the internet, so the new and improved webmail service from Microsoft is aiming to give you everything you'll need for the modern internet era and the world of the web to come.
Give it a try today - once you get over the obvious differences (and few people like change), there's a wealth of useful features here to make your life easier and more productive.
Disclaimer:MSN is part of Microsoft, the creators of Outlook.com